A Northrop F-5E Tiger II light fighter/jet trainer from the Swiss Air Force’s Patrouille Suisse aerobatic team crashed near the mountain resort village of Melchsee-Frutt in Switzerland’s Obwalden canton in the morning of May 26.
The red and white schemed F-5E – serial J-3089 (c/n L1089) – had been launched from Payerne Air Base in western Switzerland to participate as an adversary in an air combat training exercise with two Swiss Air Force-operated Boeing F/A-18C Hornet multi-role fighters. The aircraft crashed at approximately 0905hrs (local time), coming to an inverted rest on a snow-covered mountain slope near Melchsee-Frutt, which sits at an altitude of 6,300ft (1,920m) above sea level. Despite the impact, the F-5E remained remarkably intact.
Before the crash, the pilot safely ejected and was subsequently picked up by an AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters) AW109SP Da Vinci search and rescue helicopter from the Swiss air ambulance service, Rega. The pilot was then transferred to a hospital for routine checks.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but a photograph of the stricken aircraft taken moments before it impacted the mountain showed it plunging vertically with a stream of flames pouring from the engine’s exhaust nozzle.